Transfer of CD8+ T cell memory using bcl-2 as a marker

Alexis Dunkle, Ivan Dzhagalov, Claire Gordy, You Wen He*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The processes that regulate T cell memory generation are important for therapeutic design and the immune response to disease. However, what allows a subset of effector T cells to survive the contraction period to become memory cells is incompletely understood. The Bcl-2 family is critical for T cell survival, and Bcl-2 has been proposed to be important for the survival of memory cells. However, previous studies have relied on double-knockout models, potentially skewing the role of Bcl-2, and the use of Bcl-2 as a marker in adoptive transfer experiments, a method required to confirm the memory potential of cell subsets, has not been possible because of the intracellular localization of the protein. In this study, we present a novel Bcl-2 reporter mouse model and, to our knowledge, show for the first time that a distinct subset of effector T cells, and also a subset within the CD127hiKLRG1lo memory precursor effector cell population, retains high Bcl-2 expression at the peak of the CD8+ T cell response to Listeria monocytogenes. Furthermore, we show that Bcl-2 correlates with memory potential in adoptive transfer experiments using both total responding CD8+ T cells and memory precursor effector cells. These results show that even within the memory precursor effector cell population, Bcl-2 confers a survival advantage in a subset of effector CD8+ T cells that allows differentiation into memory cells and cement Bcl-2 as a critical factor for T cell memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)940-947
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2013


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